In the 75 years we’ve had hockey in Indianapolis, it’s probably safe to say 2014 was a very unique one. We celebrated a championship, welcomed a new team, closed one old arena and re-opened an even older one in a beautiful new setting. We saw some great hockey in-between!
So, as we look ahead to 2015 (and the Fuel are giving away 2,015 calendars at the Friday, Jan. 2 game against Toledo), it’s a good time to take one look back at a great year and remember some highlights.
- The hockey year started in Ann Arbor with more than 105,000 people watching the Winter Classic. Zionsville native John-Michael Liles takes part in warmups as a member of the Maple Leafs, but then is traded to the Carolina Hurricanes prior to the game.
- The Indiana Ice were already among the top teams in the USHL going into 2014, but the acquisition of goaltender Hayden Stewart gave them a very solid 1-2 punch in net. On the weekend of Jan. 17-18 in Fargo, Jason Pawloski shut out Fargo, then Stewart allowed just one goal in a 4-1 victory. Stewart would win his first 13 starts, and would allow one or fewer goals in his first nine.
- A 7-1 win in Des Moines captured the Ice’s 10th straight road victory, a franchise record.
- The year also begins with the Indy Fuel making preparations for their first ECHL season, which is set to commence in October.
- The 2014 Winter Olympics commence in Sochi, Russia, and Indy is represented in the person of former Indiana Ice defenseman John Carlson (USA) and CHL Indianapolis Ice defenseman Arvid Rekis (Latvia). Carlson scored the United States’ first goal of the tournament.
- On Feb. 8-9, Hayden Stewart has back-to-back shutouts, 3-0 over Youngstown at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and 2-0 at Youngstown the next night. He eventually breaks Jon Gillies’ club record with a shutout string of 204:54. Jason Pawloski also has a shutout on Feb. 15, giving the Ice shutouts in three of four games and one goal against in that stretch.
- On March 1, a crowd of 12,100 witnesses a 4-1 Ice victory over Chicago on “Pack the House For Charity Night.” Denis Smirnov scores twice, while Aidan Muir and Brian Pinho each have a goal and an assist in the win.
- Ice goaltenders Hayden Stewart and Jason Pawoloski each notch their fourth shutouts of the season, tying a record set by Brett Bennett in 2009.
- On March 11, former Ice player Paul Carey makes his NHL debut, making him the fifth former Indiana Ice player to play in the NHL.
- The Ice clinch the Eastern Division title on March 21 with a 5-0 win over Muskegon, with Stewart stopping 15 shots and Scott Conway tallying a goal and three assists. The win, Stewart’s 11th straight, ties Jon Gillies’ record for consecutive wins. Stewart would extend that record by two games, winning his 13th straight start in a 5-4 win over Dubuque on March 28. It’s the Ice’s first regular-season division title since 2008.
- On March 22, Brian Pinho tallies a natural hat trick in a 4-3 win over Youngstown at Pan Am Pavilion, with goals at 13:36, 14:50 and 19:59 of the second period.
- On April 1, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Indy Fuel announced a five-year affiliation agreement for the new ECHL franchise. It revives a relationship between the Blackhawks and the city’s teams that existed from 1989-99 in the International Hockey League, and in 2003-04 in the Central Hockey League.
- On April 2, Scott Conway sets an Ice record with four goals in a 9-1 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints at Pan Am Pavilion. Conway adds an assist for a five-point game. Dwyer Tschantz also tallies five points with a goal and four assists.
- On April 4, the Ice play their final game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, falling 4-2 to Green Bay in front of 6,404 fans. Alex Talcott scores the last Ice goal in the arena for the season.
- Union College wins the NCAA hockey championship, with former Indiana Ice player Matt Krug on the roster.
- The next night, the Ice close the regular season with a 5-2 win in Chicago, clinching a 42-11-7 record. The team is two points shy of winning the Anderson Cup title.
- The Ice beat their old rivals, the Green Bay Gamblers, 3 games to 1 in the opening round playoff series, setting a USHL record with three shutouts in the series. Hayden Stewart wins Game 1 by a 2-0 count, while Jason Pawloski backstops a pair of 1-0 wins in Green Bay in Games 3 and 4.
- On April 27, the Indy Fuel showed off the newly-renovated Fairgrounds Coliseum and hosted an event in the building for season ticketholders and fans.
- Ice finish a sweep of Dubuque with a 3-2 win in Dubuque on May 2, becoming only the second road team to win a playoff game in Dubuque’s arena (the first was the 2012 Ice). Scott Conway, Alex Talcott and Joe Sullivan provide the offense.
- While the Ice are celebrating a Clark Cup Final berth, the USHL announces the team will go dormant for the 2014-15 season due to lack of an available arena. In March, it had been announced that the Ice’s home rink, the Pan Am Pavilion, was slated for redevelopment.
- An incredible Clark Cup Final begins on May 9-10 in Waterloo. In Game 2, Joe Sullivan scores on a wraparound after 86:49 of hockey, giving the Ice a 3-2 win and splitting the series at a game apiece. The teams split two more games on May 16-17 in Indy, with the Ice putting together an incredible performance in a 4-1 Game 3 win, before Waterloo came back to win Game 4 7-2.
- May 20 was a memorable night in Waterloo. The Ice and Black Hawks played an incredible Game 5 with the Clark Cup on the line. Mitch Hults’ rebound goal ties the score at 1-1 in the first, but Waterloo answers in the second to take a lead going into the final period. Midway through the period, Alex Talcott reaches the puck around the Waterloo goaltender to tie the score, and with 2:15 left, Brian Pinho snipes a shot into the far-post netting from the right circle, giving the Ice a 3-2 lead and, eventually, the Clark Cup. Jason Pawloski is named the playoff MVP. Two days later, the Ice have a sendoff by bringing the Clark Cup to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- The Ice’s Jeff Brown was named the USHL’s General Manager of the Year, building the team from 16th in the USHL the previous season into the Clark Cup champions.
- On May 27, the Indy Fuel announce the hiring of new head coach Scott Hillman, who had previously been the only head coach in Missouri Mavericks history, and prior to that, won two SPHL titles in Knoxville.
- The ECHL releases its 2014-15 schedule, and it’s confirmed that the Indy Fuel will open on Oct. 17 with a home game against the Fort Wayne Komets.
- Former Indianapolis Ice coach Darryl Sutter leads the Los Angeles Kings to their second Stanley Cup in three years. Sutter coached the Indianapolis Ice to the 1990 IHL Turner Cup championship.
- On June 19, the Fuel announce the signing of their first player, Pete Massar. A rookie forward from Vermont, Massar had played for Coach Hillman’s Missouri Mavericks in the 2014 CHL playoffs.
- On June 22, the Hockey Hall of Fame announces that Dominik Hasek will be part of its induction class. Hasek played parts of two seasons – 1990-92 – with the IHL’s Indianapolis Ice.
- On June 23, former Indiana Ice defenseman Torey Krug was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team, and it was announced that he had finished fourth in the Calder Trophy voting for Rookie of the Year. He had a 40-point season with the Boston Bruins.
- On June 27-28, five Indiana Ice players were taken in the NHL Entry Draft – Josh Jacobs (2012-14) went to New Jersey in the second round, Rinat Valiev (2012-13) went to Toronto in the third round, Blake Siebenaler (2012-13) to Columbus in the third round, Ryan Mantha (2013-14) to the New York Rangers in the fourth round, and Dwyer Tschantz (2012-14) to St. Louis in the seventh round.
- Pan Am Pavilion, the Indiana Ice’s temporary home from 2012-14 (and briefly in 2009-10) is closed for good, with the boards, ice-making equipment and other hockey gear being moved out to make way to redevelopment into a multi-use hotel. The rink had hosted skating and hockey downtown for 27 years.
- The Indiana Ice name their All-Decade team: Forwards Blake Coleman, Scott Conway, Brian Ferlin, Garrett Roe and Danill Tarasov; defensemen Nick Bailen, John Carlson, Josh Jacobs and Torey Krug; and goaltender Jon Gillies.
- The Indy Fuel opened their first training camp on Oct. 3.
- On Oct. 17, the Fuel played their first ECHL game in front of a packed house of 6,477 fans at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. An incredible light show traced the history of hockey over 75 years prior to puck drop, and then, the Fuel faced the Fort Wayne Komets. Mathieu Brisebois scored the Fuel’s first goal at 10:18 of the first period, assisted by Nick Bruneteau and Robert Czarnik. Czarnik scored the first power play goal, Justin Holl took the first penalty and Mac Carruth made the first saves in net. The Fuel dropped a 5-4 shootout to Fort Wayne.
- On Oct 24, the Fuel posted their first victory, beating the Missouri Mavericks 5-1 on Pink in the Rink Night. Cody Reichard gets the win in net, turning aside 15 shots, and Robert Czarnik scores twice.
- On Oct. 26, former Indiana Ice goaltender Scott Darling makes his NHL debut, stopping 32 shots for the Chicago Blackhawks to beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1.
- On Nov. 29, the Fuel explode for four first-period goals to beat Cincinnati 5-3, tying a team record for goals in a game and setting one for goals in a period. Garett Bembridge scores twice in the win.
- The Fuel opened December with a 5-3 win over Evansville on Dec. 3, marking the team’s first back-to-back wins. Robert Czarnik scores twice and Garett Bembridge has a goal and three assists.
- On Dec. 26, the Fuel and Cincinnati Cyclones aren’t quite in the Christmas spirit – the two teams combine for 96 penalty minutes and three fights in a 4-3 Fuel win.
2014 was a great year. Time for some more magic in 2015! Looking forward to another great year of hockey at the corner of 38th & Fall Creek!